1. Darkcula
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    Darkcula Member

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    Do you at some point tend to doubt your own writing?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Darkcula, Apr 10, 2016.

    I would have posted this on Quora but I wanted the writers perspective. I had read a post on 'Medium' which I'll share it with you all:
    Consider yourself solely hooked onto some big, massive project, preferably a Novel/Book. This will mean that the timelines for creating the first draft are huge too. You have started with an idea and written a couple of chapters/pages. It will make you feel so great and enticing, that you've had it all figured, till the very last chapter. Then suddenly, you take a break from your writing and when you come back, you realize what you've written was a piece of garbage. It is because you have lost that rhythm and your vigorous regressions of your own writing creates an element of doubt which hinders your confidence. Obviously, when you had started your thing, the dophamine levels were at their peak, now the entire well's dry.
     
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  2. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not sure what the question is...

    If you're just checking whether this experience is universal - nope. Doesn't happen to me.
     
  3. Darkcula
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    Darkcula Member

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    You have half-answered my question.
    I am also seeking advise on how to move forward with my writing.

    It's not that I am trying to judge you or anything, but I am quite curious to know what amount of work you have gotten published?
     
  4. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have about twenty published novels plus a few novellas and shorts.

    In terms of your writing - I think maybe you're just running into the "writing is hard" truth. Coming up with ideas and characters and twists is fun and fairly easy. Actually writing it all down in coherent, appealing language? That's hard work. I'm not sure if there's a way around just setting your butt in the chair and typing. I'd say don't try for perfection from the start, just try to keep going. If you find yourself discouraged after reading the previous day's efforts, don't read the previous day's efforts.

    I think you just have to DO IT. Don't let yourself make excuses. Write.
     
  5. Cat Cherry
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    Cat Cherry Member

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    I think most writers doubt themselves sometimes. I've published a bunch of academic stuff, and even after publication, I still pick it apart and look at what I could have done better. There's a fine line between being a merciless self-editor who can improve issues with one's own writing and being a blubbering pool of human jelly who can't see anything but issues with one's own work. To move forward with a piece that you really think is iffy, I'd suggest showing your work to one or two people you really trust and listening carefully to what they have to say. If those people know something about writing, even better. Chances are, they'll have a few suggestions for improvement and a few positive pieces of encouragement for you. If their suggestions seem feasible rather than overwhelming, keep going.
     
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  6. A lake.
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    A lake. Member

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    Yes all the time, but that is why I rewrite and edit. When I'm feeling like it is all junk I think about the story I'm trying to tell and I can find changes that feel right. Bad writing can be frustrating but it is the only way to get better!
     
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  7. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I don't doubt my work. I'm very confident what I'm writing is good. What I do sometimes doubt though, is if it will stand out in the crowd.
     
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  8. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I think I judge pretty accurately how good or bad my writing is and if it's bad I know I can improve it later on.

    What I tend to doubt is that anybody will want to read the story but me.
     
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  9. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I don't know if my experience is anything to go by, but I was so excited about my novel project that I wrote more or less every day for about 5 years, until my first draft was done. (It's a long book and required a lot of ongoing research.)

    I made every mistake new writers can possibly make (well, except for lots of SPAG errors ...but I do have a BA in English) and it has taken me twice that long to get it edited to the point where I'm NEARLY ready to get it out there—because I've slacked off, mainly to get persepective on the thing. Many many people have read my MS—from fellow writers to people who just read books— and have given me excellent feedback, which certainly helped me improve. I'm not interested in building a career as a writer. I just want to write one or possibly two books that people will enjoy reading.

    I think what I have to offer this discussion is the notion of powering through a first draft. If your enthusiasm drops while you're getting your story down, I think all sorts of stuff can go wrong. While you're still excited about your story, keep going. Forget perfection. Just get it down.

    Once it's all 'done,' you not only have the satisfaction of having finished an entire story, but then you can start crafting in the kind of perfection that makes readers enjoy, follow, and 'get' your story. There is a lot of difference between creating ideas and getting your ideas across to the reader, and that's where editing comes in.

    If you don't have a completed story to work with, crafting perfection can sometimes be a huge waste of time. Some writers work that way, and do well. But others just get stuck.

    I suspect—and perhaps @BayView, a published author, will back me up on this—that the more you finish and edit your completed books, the less post-editing you have to do on the next ones you write. I know there are lots of newbie mistakes I won't make again. But what you really want to keep going in the first draft is your enthusiasm for your story. Don't let doubts hold you back.

    If I were you, I'd go back to where you had the story in your head, and see what you can do to rekindle your interest in it. Don't write at this stage. Just re-envision, and take your time getting back into story mode. Fall back in love with your characters and the situation you've dreamed up for them. Once you know why you wanted to write the story in the first place and can't wait to get back to it, then hop back in the saddle and ride.

    Don't let what you've already written hold you back.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2016
  10. Alejandro89
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    Alejandro89 Member

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    Yeah, some proyects I just realize are not going to pan out, and by pan out, I dont mean sending them to a publisher, but finish them, so I leave them. I'm also very shy with what I write, I guess you can call it fear of rejection.
     
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  11. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Doubt? Yes.

    The only time I ever thought something I wrote was really good was when I stumbled upon the opening chapter to a novel I wrote ten years after the fact. I loved the writing, but still had no idea what the second (or subsequent) chapters would be. As a result, that 'perfect' first chapter still languishes in my drawer.
     
  12. Elven Candy
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    Elven Candy Contributing Member

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    Haha, you should see how many times I've had to change my entire storyline because the plot just didn't make sense! Yes, I struggle with the story, and yes, I struggle with thinking what I wrote earlier is garbage. When I do, I just rewrite it until I'm satisfied (or say, "ok, the plot still works, so I'll fix that in the second draft," and ignore it). A lot of people say don't read what you wrote earlier if it discourages you, but I can't continue my story if I don't reread it. I've learned over the years (because that's how long I've been trying to get this one story written) to not be discouraged by a day or even a month of bad writing, and to just learn through it. When I have to scrap the story and rewrite it completely, I get discouraged for a while, but then I get new inspiration on how to solve the issues and I end up being glad I'm rewriting it.

    My story has morphed into something completely different than what I was originally planning, but I wouldn't change it for anything. It's a learning process, and thanks in part to this writing forum, I'm learning a lot faster now than I was before. You just have to keep trying, keep writing, and figure out what you did wrong and how to correct it. Pretty soon, you'll learn when it's safe to say, "I'll fix that in the second draft," and when you actually have to fix it now.
     
  13. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Fear of rejection may be holding you back more than it should. Nobody is going to reject you if they never see your writing! So don't put it out there for anybody to see till YOU are happy with it—or ready to get honest feedback about what might be problems. Then put it out to people who will help you and not reject you.

    If you expect everybody on the planet to love your story unreservedly, then you're not being realistic and are setting yourself up for discouragement. On the other hand, just because somebody doesn't like it doesn't mean you're a failure, either. You aim for the middle ground, where some people will like it and some won't. That's more or less where all writers end up.

    If people criticise your story, ask yourself if they have a point. If they do, then you learn how to fix the problem. You don't run away and hide because you've made a 'mistake.'

    So have fun with it. Nobody is depending on your writing, are they? So relax and have fun, as you would any other activity you do for pleasure. You may discover a lot of talent in yourself.
     
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  14. SadStories
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    SadStories Member

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    I'm pretty new at this so I'm doubting myself even on the basics, but in a way I think you should be doubting yourself. If you aren't, it means you're not taking any risks, you're not pulling teeth in your soul, you're not drawing any blood. You're just crafting a story, doing a service for people who want a coherent series of events to forget themselves in. Someone above said something like, "It's easy to think of characters, plots and twists; writing a story is the hard part." To a certain degree I agree because literally anyone sometimes has story ideas, but actually writing a story is hard work. Incredibly hard work. Like harder than most things. I mean, if you have an office job someone is constantly looking over your back, telling you what you should do and shouldn't. Writing a book is something no one tells you how to do or that you should do it, and that can take years. And which might turn out to be a complete waste of so, so much time. The thing is though, that almost anyone, with enough practice and determination, can be become an excellent writer. What is going to set your book apart though, the kind of books that become popular and mean a lot to people, is for the most part books where there is BLOOD on the page. Someone's fears and worries and things editors tried to stop them from doing. MADNESS. Even someone as unromantic as Stephen King is always at his best when he is dealing with personal issues and doing strange things. Everyone knows the weirdness and rage of Carrie, remembers the passion of his Dark Tower books and the sadness of The Shining, written as a way to process his past as an alcoholic parent. No one remembers all the rote genre books he did. Sure: I think it's a rookie mistake to forget that writing is first and foremost a job, tough work that demands discipline and cool, calm self-criticism. What is even worse though is forgetting the little child in yourself that believes in magic, the part of you that just wants to run around in the woods screaming, the part that still thinks there are amazingly original stories to tell no matter how many books have been written; even if keeping this part of you means risking having people laugh at you, never not doubting your writing. Which is why I think that you should be afraid. If you're not, I don't think it matters if anyone wants to publish your books. You did not bleed.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2016
  15. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I'm forever battling doubt. It gets so friggin annoying though because it's indulgent to stop and waste time wondering - Is this good? Strange thing is - I've got dozens and dozens of story beginnings that sound pretty good on my computer. No middles and no endings. Why I was so hard on myself at the time ... I don't know.

    Sometimes I think it's a hangup from school. In school you had to get things right - if not you risked getting laughed at by fellow students, getting a low grade and/or getting punished by your parents. That atmosphere really didn't encourage creativity - it encouraged conformity and pleasing or at least placating the teacher.
    Writing or anything creative actually bucks the world's process because you don't just learn and mouth back what you learn. You learn and transform what you learned to accommodate you. It's a journey not an answer.
     
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  16. Alejandro89
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    Alejandro89 Member

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    Thanks and you are right, but I misspoke a little, what Im tired of is passing out material to people, and them never reading it. Thats very frustrating, but I also gotta admit I send a novel once to a publisher once and the took a year to tell they were not interested, that has made me really weary of sending anything. I've published in a couple of magazines, but the thought of such a long wait for a longer work makes shiver.
     
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  17. zoupskim
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    zoupskim Contributing Member Contributor

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    I know how my current WIP ends. I have no character questions, plot worries, or setting research to do. I can see the story in my mind. I've 'read it' so many times I hate it.

    It exists in the REAL word right now as a crappy, alpha 2nd draft with the main character's name different at different points in the narrative. All the GOOD elements are there. I can see their sad little faces poking up out of the plot holes, only yo be buried again under a quagmire of bad dialog. Having a good idea isn't enough. Even when being creative, you have to work hard. You have to struggle.

    So struggle. Endure. Contend. For that is the sword with which one defies death.

    -Skull Knight
     
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  18. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Yes.

    All the time I doubt myself as an author.

    Even when good reviews reviews come in, and no matter how many good ones come in, just one bad one is enough to make you consider giving it all up because how can someone crash your hard work?

    It's one of those feel the fear and do it anyway things.

    Sorry for the short answer, I had a fab answer planned until the police knocked at the door.
    (Someone tried to kidnap my daughter while she was on her way home, she ducked into a nearby pub and called me to pick her up (which I did) so no harm done, but we felt it should be reported in case it happened to anyone else.)
     
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  19. AlcoholicWolf
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    AlcoholicWolf Contributing Member

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    The writing is never the problem. Writing is just a skill. You learn skills and improve on them. Read Love's Labour's Lost and you'll see how crap some early work can be. The doubt is the only thing that prevents the work. Cure the doubt, not the writing. Because if you don't get the confidence back, you won't be able to write.
     
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  20. Justin Phillips
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    Justin Phillips Active Member

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    Lately, yes. I have been doubting a lot. If you read my post in my random thoughts thread, (the lounge), I made a semi joke that I've quit writing 5 times in the last two weeks. My solution right now, not sure if it will work, is to switch projects. I think I'm too attached to the current WIP that I'm not admitting that it's not working. So here goes.... new project!
     
  21. zoupskim
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    zoupskim Contributing Member Contributor

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    *misclicked send*
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2016
  22. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    Do you at some point tend to doubt your own writing?
    Nope... I doubt my writing at EVERY point.
    Are people going to understand what I'm getting at?
    Is the reader going to like the likeable characters and hate the evil ones?
    Are my characters too corny, too one dimensional, too cliche'?
    Are my commas. in the, wrong, damn places, again?
    Am I switching tenses?
    Using were instead of was?
    Being descriptive enough? Being too descriptive?
    Why is three different software programs showing different mistakes in the same paragraph?
    If everyone is using software to fix mistakes won't we all sound the same?
    WTF am I doing? I have no right to try this!
    I want a puppy.

     
  23. KokoN
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    KokoN Active Member

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    I doubt myself all the time, but I also have never gotten any real feedback on my writing. I was hating all my projects for a while so after asking for advice, I ended up coming up with a totally new idea which I've been enjoying working on for the past week or so. I don't know how I'll feel about it when the first draft is done, but I really want to get there so I plan on pressing through the best I can.

    Maybe you need to try writing something totally new and different if you're feeling discouraged about your work.
     
  24. Lilith Addington
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    Lilith Addington Member

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    I doubt my writing all the time. Every single day I wonder, will there be enough okay stuff in here to salvage when editing? I am fully convinced that my writing sucks, with the exception of a couple of clever lines. I doubt my capabilities, in part because I've never truly finished a story before (though I've started more than I can count).
    I am always pleasantly surprised when I read back over bits of my novel and discover a story instead of miscellaneous word vomit on the page.
     
  25. Shbooblie
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    Shbooblie Contributing Member

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    Every single time I open my manuscript there is doubt. Who do I think I am, thinking I can write a novel?
    But those negative feelings just make me work all the harder to polish up my drafts so that they read better. Before I started my WIP I used to write a lot of songs. I never doubted those and never felt shaky in my abilities to construct nice sounding verses and choruses, because to me it was easy to tell good lyrics from bad.
    I'm new to novel writing though, I find that novels are more difficult to judge. The only basis I have to judge my own writing is by looking at the works of others (unless I show people and that ain't happenin' any time soon!). Based on that I'd say I am doing ok, but I don't know how other more experienced writers would respond to my work.

    I've had encouraging feedback on the plot at least so I just think of that whenever my confidence gets knocked and it spurs me on to do better.
     
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